Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard is believed to be willing to sanction the departures of a handful of first-team players, with less than a month to go until the transfer window slams shut for Premier League clubs.
What’s the word?
As per Villa correspondent Ashley Preece in a Q&A for Birmingham Mail, the Midlands outfit are believed to have four players up for sale from the current squad, albeit while having yet to receive any offers for that quartet thus far.
Asked for an update on any possible departures, the club insider stated: “Players up for sale: Guilbert, Berto, Hause and El Ghazi. No offers yet.”
As revealed by Preece, that list of names is Frederic Guilbert, Kortney Hause, Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi, with a recent report from The Telegraph also corroborating the news of those possible exits.
It would appear to be the right call from Gerrard to try and cash in on the ‘deadwood’ in his squad, with the former England international having only recently insisted that the current squad is “bloated”, following the five incoming deals wrapped up so far this summer.
As for those who could be on their way out of Villa Park, it should come as a little shock to the players themselves and the club’s supporters, with all four having appeared surplus to requirements since the Liverpool legend’s appointment as manager last November.
Is Gerrard making the right call?
In the case of Guilbert, the Frenchman has seemingly been on the scrapheap ever since arriving in England three-and-a-half years ago, with the right-back having made just 32 appearances for the club in all competitions in that time, notably spending last season on loan at Strasbourg.
With Matty Cash the undoubted first-choice starter on the right of the defence – and with the impressive Kaine Kesler Hayden also in reserve – the 27-year-old is unsurprisingly not part of the manager’s plans this season, with his possible exit a natural conclusion to what has been a frustrating spell at the club for him.
As for fellow defender Hause, the arrival of Diego Carlos from Sevilla earlier this summer – following on from Calum Chambers‘ addition in January – has only shunted the former Wolves centre-back further down the pecking order, having made just four league starts last term.
An exit has also appeared inevitable for El Ghazi, with the Dutch forward having been shipped out on loan to Everton in the winter, eventually making just two substitute appearances for the Toffees totalling 11 minutes.
The 27-year-old had been a key part of the club’s promotion push after joining from Lille in 2018 and netted ten Premier League goals during the 2020/21 campaign. However, with the likes of Leon Bailey, Philippe Coutinho and Emi Buendia having arrived since then, he has become something of a peripheral figure at Villa park.
Finally, in the case of Traore, the former Chelsea man had netted seven league goals in his debut campaign at Villa two seasons ago, but last term saw the 26-year-old make just nine league appearances – only one of which came from the start – as he was hampered by both injury and illness.
Again, like with El Ghazi, the wave of new attacking additions over the last 12 months or so has seen him fall out favour at the club, while the Burkina Faso international seemingly doesn’t fit Gerrard’s potential 4-3-1-2 system.
It could appear brutal to dispense with four players who have all contributed to Villa at times over the years, but with the 42-year-old looking to improve upon last season’s disappointing 14th-placed league finish, then a squad revamp is undoubtedly needed, as per his own admission.